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Jaguar E Type 2+2

Economy Class E-Type Published: 9th May 2011 - 1 Comments

Jaguar E Type 2+2

Fast Facts

  • Best model: V12 manual
  • Worst model: US models
  • Budget buy: 2+2 auto
  • OK for unleaded?: Probably
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L6680 x W1656 mm (S3)
  • Spares situation: Excellent
  • DIY ease?: Reasonable but heavy duty
  • Club support: Excellent
  • Appreciating asset?: Always lag behind 2str
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Depends what you want one for
Rear seat space is tight but fairly bearable for kids Rear seat space is tight but fairly bearable for kids
Dash is an all time great! S2s benefi t from better seats, further Dash is an all time great! S2s benefi t from better seats, further
Bloated look of the 2+2 is less evident from the rear – does it look so bad? Looks aside, it's the cheapest was to buy an E-type Bloated look of the 2+2 is less evident from the rear – does it look so bad? Looks aside, it's the cheapest was to buy an E-type
All 2+2s used lustier 4.2 unit, but not as fast as S1 All 2+2s used lustier 4.2 unit, but not as fast as S1
Bonnet fi t needs checking. A good one ‘clicks ‘ shut Bonnet fi t needs checking. A good one ‘clicks ‘ shut
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Reckon E-types are out of your price range? Think again – although 2+2s aren’t top cats, they could be just the ticket for you to ride this Jag

Pros & Cons

Value, four-seat practicality, E-type image and owner satisfaction
Style, average performance, US engines, likely to be poorly looked after

With E-type mania at fever pitch this year, as this most classic of classics celebrates its 50th, if somebody tells you that the days of the affordable E-type are well and truly over, don’t pay them any attention. Yes, of course, top cats sell for £50,000 and upwards but this doesn’t mean that mere mortals like us, with an average budget, can’t afford one. Bargain E-types are still around and, so long as you don’t mind having what’s regarded as the runt of the litter, you too can enjoy that special E-type experience for not much more than £10,000, and certainly less than 20 grand.

What E-types are we talking about? Why the gawky looking 2+2 and Amrican ex-pats of course! But, before you fl ip the pages and move on in disgust, hold on and listen to what we have to say… 

These universally unloved classic cats still have a lot going for them, not least the last chance for many of us to own one of the greatest cars ever made. Got you interested now, have we?


2+2 was actually mooted not long after the s1’s launch in ‘61

While the 2+2 E-type surfaced in spring 1966, said at the time to satisfy a growing request from across the pond, the fact is that a bigger, more family-friendly E-type was on the cards at the tail end of when this Jag fi rst shook the world back in 1961. The problem for the fi ve year delay was trying to add much needed cabin space without spoiling the look of the delectable Coupe two-seater. A whole nine inches added to the wheelbase plus a roof line two inches higher just about managed to accommodate a rear seat, albeit one only really suitable for children. Another sop to the vital US market, where the majority of E-types went, was the option of a three-speed Borg Warner automatic. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds and the 2+2 fl oor pan is substantially different to the two-seater range.

Reception to the 2+2 wasn’t as bad as history now depicts. By the time it was launched, it inherited the ‘Series 1 ½ ‘ improvements including the lustier if lazier 4.2-litre XK engine, a lighter, easier to use Jaguar clutch and gearbox, better seats, a reworked heating and ventilation system plus the incorporation of more effective heat shields to stop heat soak into the cabin. The UK’s weeklies found this addition to the cat’s family favourable while the infl uential American Car |and Driver said that “Jaguar has given every married man the rationale he always dreamed of”.

In many ways there was a sense of déjà vu with the E-type 2+2, rekindling the history of how the XK sportster evolved. Both started off as a light and lean sports car and gradually grew into a more bloated, if more civilised, touring machine. Unsurprisingly then that by the late 1960s the E-type was undergoing a change of identity; from an iconic youthful carefree sports car to a softer, more sensible middle-aged GT. When ‘proper’ Series 2 cars surfaced in 1968, Uncle Sam’s increasing demands started to dilute the E-type experience further. Safety dictated that the inside those classic toggle switches were replaced by uglier rocker switches and more crash padding to the dashboard. It also spelt the end of those lovely faired in headlamps which were moved further forward, while the sexy small open mouth grille was, together with raised height bumpers, now enlarged by almost 70 per cent to improve the car’s marginal cooling in hot climates, although this wasn’t a bad thing it has to be said.

That cute little rump was replaced by a lardier rear end with new relocated tail lamp clusters (also used on the Lotus Europa, incidentally) slung underneath new higher-set wrap around bumpers. And gone was the novel triple wiper arrangement although the windscreen rake on the bloated-looking 2+2 was altered to give a smoother air by altering a steep 46.5 degree rake to a sleeker 53.5 degrees. Other welcome changes included the best seats yet installed in an E-type that actually reclined plus there was the option of air conditioning.

Another well known E-type weak point, the old Dunlop brakes, were usefully upgraded with higher performance three-pot Girling hardware. Add fi nger light power steering to the options list and now – when combined with the auto transmission – anybody could drive the once hairy chested E-type with ease. That classic XK engine now featured XJ6-style cam covers but US anti-pollution laws saw the adoption of twin Zenith-Stromberg carbs and power was reduced to a paltry 175bhp on smogstrangulated Stateside cars. The V12 Series 3 E-Type of 1971 couldn’t comea moment too soon as the E-Type had become a shadow of its former self. Although sneered at by many enthusiasts the S3 is perhaps thenicest and best model of them all even if the car’s character had changed due to that massive and majestic 5.3-lire V12 nestling under the bonnet.

With a rousing 272bhp and with only a 60lb weight penalty over the old XK lump, performance was back to original E-type standards. But the E-type – now only made in stretched 2+2 form anyway (although the two-seater soft top remained) – was fatter, softer and a whopping 145lb heavier than ever before, making this fat cat more a sugar daddy GT express than the svelte and serious sports car it was ten years previously. By now people had started to fall out of love with the fast aging Jaguar. Sales started to dwindle while the energy crisis in the wake of the Middle East war late in 1973 really used up the cat’s remaining lives and the thirsty V12 fi nally bowed out in February 1975… when only four were delivered to customers in the UK. The last 50 E-types were respectfully marked by special commemorative edition.

The 2+2 was more popular with buyers than the press and even Jaguar management, many who never liked the idea from the outset. In it’s first year of production it was the best sellingE-type to be exported and it certainly kicked the normal Coupe into touch over the proceeding years plus held its own against OTS models, beating it solidly in 1971 and 1972. The very last 2+2 E-type was produced during the energy crisis in October 1973; Jaguar soldiered on with just the soft top as sales dramatically tailed off. Not bad such an for an unloved cat then, was it?


The E-type is one of the greatest cars ever… But as they say love is blind and you need a reality check before we go any further. As advanced as the E-type was when introduced, you have to bear in mind that the design isalmost 50 years old and naturally it feels vintage on the road. Add to this that the 2+2 was the least sporting of the range, and added weight (3 cwt). So It’s hardly surprising to note that these fatter cats are hardly of the scalded type. Performance fi gures by Motor in 1966 record the automatic version taking two seconds longer to hit 50mph (6.8 secs) over the manual and top speed was sliced down to 136.2mph – although as any Jaguar E-type fan knows, that original 150mph boast for production models was highly questionable anyway! In real world motoring many will fi nd the 2+2’s pace more than ample, even in auto guise, while economy was recorded at just under 19mpg, and almost 22mpg on a run. Things aren’t so acceptable for US models where the de-toxing
equipment and twin rather than triple carbs reduced the power output to from 265bhp (again these fi gures are now disputed) to around 175bhp. Slap on a slushy automatic gearbox and performance on US car dropped right down to a top speed of less than 120mph (the lower axle ratio fi tted doesn’t help) and acceleration is now no better than the average modern diesel repmobile. Still, as we said at the start, these Jag E-types are more about owner pride than driver satisfaction and given the more sedate way many drive their classics again the pace may be seen as more than suffi cient. One area where a UK auto gains over a manual is crsuing; the self shifter is geared at a long-legged 26.4mph (24.7mph for the manual) although US cars are a lot lower geared, and fussier, to cater for the lack of power. Lack of power is something that could never be levelled at the V12 S3 in either UK or US tune. With a massive 272bhp from this still magnifi cent 5.3-litre engine and more importantly over 300lbft of torque, the four-speed manual became virtually a one ratio car anyway and you may have well have the auto model! It’s 146mpg top speed and seven second dash to sixty is still impressive today – not so its 15mpg thirst perhaps.

In terms of handling the 2+2 isn’t so responsive as the original thanks to its longer wheelbase, which aided ride rather than handling. Road tests at the time commented that the eight/ ten inches added length (depending upon year) made the Jag feel a much bigger car and one long run than opting for a rouge example with the intention of ‘doing it up’ It never works out quite that way. Hunting around you can fi nd fairly decent 2+2s around £10,000 and probably £8000 for US models but that difference will be gulped up by a RHD conversion. There isn’t a great deal of price difference between a ‘six’ or a V12 and it seems that condition counts above all else with truly top cars ranging between £20-25,000. But given how much earlier cars sell for they are bargains! that was beginning to feel decidedly sloppy in V12 guise. This was hardly helped by the numb power steering being now standard fi tting, although it does come into its own in town. So, is the added space of the 2+2 worth the sacrifi ce in sportiness and style? Yes and no; the rear seats are only suitable for children or very small folk as legroom is only dictated by how much shoe can pass under the front seat squab. Headroom isn’t great either but as an occasional four-seater it just about manages it while the added interior space certainly makes the hatch area fairly usable. Jaguar’s publicity department made much of the fact that a set of golf clubs or aqua diving equipment could be stored through the side swinging third door; a classic feature that now proudly adorns the current XK model!


Whatever the size of your bank balance the general consensus on E-type buying is spend as much as you can on the best car you can fi nd for that budget. Given the cost of restorations buying this way will work out a lot cheaper in the long run than opting for a rouge example with the intention of ‘doing it up’ It never works out quite that way. Hunting around you can fi nd fairly decent 2+2s around £10,000 and probably £8000 for US models but that difference will be gulped up by a RHD conversion. There isn’t a great deal of price difference between a ‘six’ or a V12 and it seems that condition counts above all else with truly top cars ranging between £20-25,000. But given how much earlier cars sell for they are bargains!


There’s lots you can do to give this car sharper claws – all you need is the money. Given that the type of person who buys a 2+2 will be on a tight budget, we’ll concentrate on budget mods. The suspension and marginal brakes can be upgraded to S2 or S3 systems or even further if desired. New springs and dampers (Koni and Gaz work best) together with poly bushes, particularly on the IRS, can give the cat’s old chassis a nice taut feel. Engine-wise electronic ignition and an uprated radiator with a Kenlowe (or similar fan) may suffi ce. A session on a rolling road to fi ne tune those triple carbs can pull out some cheap extra horses, too. On US cars, then a complete top end from a UK E-type engine (or Mk2 although it only used a twin 2inch SU set up) will put back a lot of the lost bhp. V12s probably have enough go as it is but replacing the old Lucas Opus electronic ignition is almost essential and possibly done already. Ditching the standard Stromberg carbs for equivalent SUs is said to great ly enhance overall performance and drivability. US cars wear a lower 3.5 axle ratio and ideally needs to be changed to make cruising less fussy while thanks to their larger transmission tunnels, the overdrive from a XJ6 can be grafted on or even the Rover SD1 derived five-speed unit found on S3 XJ6s.

What To Look For

  • Let’s have the good news fi rst! The E-type has an army of devotees and a solid industry behind it to ensure that this car lasts for another half century. Whatever part you need is available plus there’s a raft of top specialists who can help with buying, repairing and restoring. All you need to do is add money…
  • As lovely as the E-type’s shapely and sexy curves are, that feline fuselage is a rust trap of fi rst order and there are many lovely looking cars out there that are simply bodged with fi ller and a splash T Cut. If you don’t know what to look for (and the numerous crafty dodges that can be employed) then have the car checked by a reputable E-type expert. It will save you thousands and your sanity in the long run.
  • Biggest rust traps are around the tub, chassis sections and particularly the rear suspension radius arm mounts, located to the back of the fl oorpan. When corrosion sets in, the entire area can rip-out under fi erce acceleration! So bring your overalls and have a good crawl underneath.
  • Other vital yet vulnerable areas include the sills, fl oorpan, door skins and bulkhead panel (that’s the section between the doors and bonnet). At the rear the wheel arches (double skinned on Series 3 cars) suffer as does the lower quarters and the boot fl oor.
  • Take all the time in the world when examining the engine frames, particularly for accident damage, stress fractures and rot, especially at the lower suspension mounts. Also look at the panel between the bottom frame/bulkhead mount with an equally critical eye.
  • Rear tailgate rot is a moderate worry but check and also the valance panels and check the spare wheel well for the tin worm.
  • That classic horny bonnet represents a good third of the car’s overall size and it’s condition is –naturally –critical. Replacements are available from Jaguar but at over £4000 not exactly cheap. Plonk on fi tting and spraying – well, you do the sums!
  • Don’t bank on a kerbside fit by lunchtime. With end trimming, hinge shims and a lot of experience, even a good bodyshop or Jag specialist can take days just to get it to fi t right (which means a light, positive press to close).
  • That XK engine is quite a simple unit these days and if looked after can cover 100,000 miles without too much trouble. Be prepared to write out a cheque for at least £4000 for a decent full on rebuild.
  • Biggest problems are corroded waterways, subsequent overheating, worn timing chains, silent tappets (this usually means then have closed up in service resulting in a head-off decoke job to re-shim them properly) and oil leaks, especially that well known Jaguar weak spot, the rear crank oil seal.
  • Oil pressure should be 35-40lb when hot at normal speeds. Listen for rumbling crankshafts at the same time and watch for smoking under power (signifying a worn bottom end).
  • Radiator and hoses should be in showroom shape otherwise all engines boil over very easily. Many specialists have developed enhanced cooling system designs that are worth opting for.
  • A quality anti-freeze is paramount on any Jag and the alloy V12 corrodes, around the heads. However this tough old thing is unlikely to ever need a full rebore due to wear (60lb oil pressure is order of the day if ok). On early engines, the valve seats used to drop out and wreck the heads but it was soon cleared up. Again if the rear crankshaft oil seal has let go on this engine, then that’s an all out job. And it’s a hell of an engine to remove.
  • Spotting a misfi re on this a 12 cylinder is never easy… and the Lucas ‘Opus’ system was dubbed ‘opless’ soon after the V12’s launch. Luckily there are improved aftermarket replacements.
  • Gearboxes, (auto and manual), are strong but again, lack of oil changes and abuse are not uncommon. Nor is whine or jumping out of gear.
  • Clutch changes are a major job but apart from the usual checks have no specifi c problems. The actual action is always heavy compared to modern standards.
  • Amazingly overdrive was never available on the car although Jaguar tried the idea. So long as you use the automatic car’s transmission tunnel then an XJ6 system can be made to fi t.
  • The IRS deserves a medal for long service. Lack of greasing or soggy mounts will lead to rear-steer. With its coil-over-shocks and inboardmounted disc brakes its complexity ensures that rebuilds cost in excess of £1000. Save up and steel yourself to doing it because transformation to the handling is enormous.
  • Front suspension is a torsion bar type with top and bottom ball-joints. The bottom joints are current parts but the top joint seat is cast into the upper wishbone. If changing the ball-pin does not take out play, an exchange arm is needed.
  • Damper and spring health are vital for E-type’s handling and ride qualities so don’t scrimp on replacements if needed. Modern poly suspension bushes and uprated dampers (Gaz are well liked) sharpen this car up (See Improvements bit).
  • The torsion bar front setup needs to be checked for wear and correct height (the latter can be adjusted up but needs to be done by somebody who knows E-types). Check the steering’s universal joints and bushes for excess play as deterioration ruins the car’s handling.
  • S2s benefi ted from better brakes, but they still need to be in A1 shape to perform adequately and as any Jag owner knows, seized handbrakes are a away of life. It’s not uncommon for the IRS to spew oil over the inboard rear brakes.
  • We expect to see an E-type on wire wheels – made stronger on S2 cars after regular reports of breakages. Listen for clonks or clicking and check the spokes for breakages and looseness. V12 cars had simple styled rims as wires were not deemed to be strong enough at the time.
  • Beware also of dodgy right hand drive conversions. It’s not a hard car to swap over the essentials and all parts are readily available but, many are done on the cheap: extending existing wiring rather than using a proper RHD loom; that sort of thing.
  • As with all exotic cars, you need to drive a few E-types to gain a yardstick for comparison purposes. And speak to marque experts if you are undecided; most will be happy to help you.
  • Automatic (mostly fi tted to the V12s) is an acquired taste and it certainly dents values – and performance - on six-cylinder cars. But there again, Jaguar manual transmissions are rarely the slickest so you may even prefer self-shifting model after all.
  • How about a US car then? Tougher emissions laws led Jaguar to dramatically detune XK lump to 175bhp. Add air con and auto and real world performance is pretty dire. But if you just want an E-type for those looks and image then why not?

Three Of A Kind

Porsche 928
Porsche 928
Designed to replace the 911 the V8 928 was too fat and lazy to take its place but as a 2+2 GT with a Jag-like hatchback facility it’s one of the very best and most practical. Beautifully built and everlasting, there’s plenty of good ones around going cheap for what they offer. Spares and repairs can be another story so buy with care. Best model is the rare-spotted GTS with manual ‘box. Most 928s are autos though.
Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XK8
If your’re after a bargain Jaguar then it has to be the XK8. Okay so it’s booted rather than hatched at the rear while the lack of a manual transmission may irk some, but the XK8 is a fi ne GT with real go and grip plus look E-type-like. There are loads around meaning prices will remain keen for ages so avoid cheap, tatty ones. And there are plenty of those around to catch out the unwary!
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin’s Virage is hardly the stuff dreams are made of and image as well as values have suffered as a result; they’ll slip below ten grand soon. Quality and dynamics aren’t what 007 would approve of but a good one makes a cracking mileeater. Low values means pennypinching ownership and there’s lots to go wrong but at least you’ll own the last true Aston. Just try one.


A 2+2 isn’t the best E-type of all and we’re not going to kid you otherwise. But for practicality, usability and value for money, it’s one of the best and for many of us, the last chance to own an E-type. You’ll probably need to look harder and longer for a good one as these least-loved fat cats will probably have been neglected the most. But beauty is only skin deep and you really don’t need rose-tinted specs to see the attraction of these family-friendly cats.

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User Comments

This review has 1 comments

  • Is this E-type for sale ?

    Comment by: Ralphberry     Posted on: 27 Dec 2011 at 07:58 AM

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